Friday, August 30, 2013

Dumb Is Dangerous

From a piece in HuffPo:
It's remarkable how low America places in healthcare efficiency: among the 48 countries included in the Bloomberg study, the U.S. ranks 46th, outpacing just Serbia and Brazil. Once that sinks in, try this one on for size: the U.S. ranks worse than China, Algeria, and Iran.


But the sheer numbers are really what's humbling about this list: the U.S. ranks second in healthcare cost per capita ($8,608), only to be outspent by Switzerland ($9,121) -- which, for the record, boasts a top-10 healthcare system in terms of efficiency. Furthermore, the U.S. is tops in terms of healthcare cost relative to GDP, with 17.2 percent of the country's wealth spent on medical care for every American.


In other words, the world's richest country spends more of its money on healthcare while getting less than almost every other nation in return.

Keep Pluggin' Away










Bill Watterson retired from writing and drawing "Calvin & Hobbes" about 18 years ago, but the timelessness of his message -- to always remain thoughtful, imaginative, and playful -- will stick in our culture forever, if we're lucky. Case in point: Cartoonist Gavin Aung Than, who pens comics on his blog Zen Pencils, created this tribute to Watterson that has struck a chord with the Internet over the last few days.
Than took the text from a commencement speech Watterson delivered at Kenyon College in 1995, and illustrated it in the style of "Calvin & Hobbes." He explains that this is the first time he's intentionally attempted to mimic Watterson, although the man has been an inspiration for his art as well as his career.
If you want to buy a print of Than's cartoon, you may be out of luck. He explains that since Watterson famously refuses to license his work, preferring to let his art speak for itself, selling this "would be against the whole spirit of Calvin and Hobbes." However, you can (and should) click over to his site and browse his other, non-Watterson related artwork.
hat tip = HuffPo via Democratic Underground

New Findings

Like we didn't know this already?  I guess it doesn't hurt to look for a little confirmation and reaffirmation now and then.
In an earlier study, published last year in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Piff and four researchers from the University of Toronto conducted a series of experiments which found that “upper-class individuals behave more unethically than lower-class individuals.” This included being more likely to “display unethical decision-making,” steal, lie during a negotiation and cheat in order to win a contest.
In one telling experiment, the researchers observed a busy intersection, and found that drivers of luxury cars were more likely to cut off other drivers and less likely to stop for pedestrians crossing the street than those behind the wheels of more modest vehicles. “In our crosswalk study, none of the cars in the beater-car category drove through the crosswalk,” Piff told The New York Times. “But you see this huge boost in a driver’s likelihood to commit infractions in more expensive cars.” He added: “BMW drivers are the worst.”

 --and--
These findings may appear to represent a bit of psychological trivia, but a study to be published in Political Science Quarterly by Thomas Hayes, a scholar at Trinity University, finds that U.S. senators respond almost exclusively to the interests of their wealthiest constituents – those more likely to be unethical and less sensitive to the suffering of others, according to Piff.
Hayes took data from the Annenberg Election Survey — a massive database of public opinion representing the views of 90,000 voters — and compared them with their senators’ voting records from 2001 through 2010. From 2007 through 2010, U.S. senators were somewhat responsive to the interests of the middle class, but hadn’t been for the first 6 years Hayes studied. The views of the poor didn’t factor into legislators’ voting tendencies at all.
It gets harder and harder for me to understand why we insist on doing nothing to address the massive problems being created and perpetuated by the ability of hugely wealthy Government Patrons to control the very process of government in a system that's supposed to be all about keeping that kind of power in check.




Thursday, August 29, 2013

Today's Religious Blather

The headline says it all - most of it anyway:
‘Miracle’ Fresno Tree ‘Weeping Tears of God’ Is Really Just Dripping Bug Poop
Read the story at Moral Low Ground.


Behold - the power of self-delusion and the miracle of deliberate ignorance:


Here We Go Again

From The Guardian:
In a sign that Obama believes he has the legal authority, independently of Congress, to launch a strike, Carney said that allowing the chemical weapons attack to go unanswered would be a "threat to the United States".
It's not at all clear what we're fixin' to do, but when the White House intones a certain combination of magic words (eg: "threat to the US"), then it's pretty clear we're fixin' to do somethin'.  And never mind that some asshole Syrian colonel used poison gas to settle an old score (what? it's as likely as anything else we've heard).  The point is that it poses practically no serious "threat to the US".

(boiler plate): It's never about what they tell us it's about, so we have to assume we don't know what Obama knows.

Let's hope Obama knows a shitload more than I do; and that what he knows includes the very real probability that Assad might have something Russian or Chinese up his sleeve.  A piss-ant like Assad usually won't do what we tell him not to do unless he's got some real backup from some heavy friends.

Obama said he'd do something if illegal weapons were used, and now he has to follow through.  But if he goes in there with a big swingin' dick, he's likely to get a very rude surprise.  Since that's not Obama's style, maybe we can expect to hear about whatever we're planning to do after the fact - and it'll be like Osama bin Laden all over again.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Today's Pix









Today's Wonderment

So, tell me again - why is everybody always so down on The Media?


Outrage and shock and dismay, oh my! It was all over Facebook the last coupla days too.

C'mon - really?  With all the really weird and horrible shit going on in the world, Miley Cyrus is what we need to worry about?

And when I stop to think about it for a moment, maybe the people who're throwing their little hissy fits might wanna thank her for letting them retreat back into the fantasy of believing an exhibitionist teenager is at the root of all our troubles.

Today's Quote

God love Charlie Pierce, especially for having sense enough to love Little Jemmy Madison:
Of all the enemies of true liberty, war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force, of the people. The same malignant aspect in republicanism may be traced in the inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war, and in the degeneracy of manner and of morals, engendered in both. No nation can preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare. War is in fact the true nurse of executive aggrandizement. In war, a physical force is to be created; and it is the executive will, which is to direct it.  -- James Madison, Political Observations, April 20, 1795.

A Brief Moment Of Enlightenment

Libertarians (for lack of a better label) are opposed to ObamaCare because taken to the logical extreme - which is where an awful lot of 'em seem to be located now - they have to be opposed to any and all efforts to suck them into any and all kinds of Collaborative/Cooperative/Collective endeavor.

It's not that they object to ObamaCare per se - they have to object to the very notion of Insurance itself.  The idea of getting together with a bunch of people you don't know and can't trust is off-putting enough, but being forced to pool your resources with these unwashed, unwelcome, undeserving miscreants?  Child, please.

Insurance is the Communism of Capitalism, and it must be avoided by all self-respecting Rugged Individuals.

Pay What You Owe

So here we go again.  We're still in a position of having to borrow money from ourselves to pay the bills, and we'll have to raise the debt limit (again) in the next coupla months, and of course that means the Repubs are making noise (again) about "getting some concessions" from the president in exchange for their support.

OK - as if we weren't all just sick o' this shit - here it is (again):  The House of Representatives decides how much money we're going to spend on what things.  It's right there in Article 1 of the US Constitution - look it up.  The Prez and the Senate and your dead Aunt Tilley can submit budget requests until Michele Bachmann grows a brain, but nobody spends one brass farthing if John Boehner and his merry band of Sludge Divers don't agree to it ahead of time.

So Boehner says it's OK to spend the money; Obama spends the money; and then Boehner says whoa, you spent too much money - we'll have to punish you for spending the money we told you it was OK to spend, so instead of paying for all the shit we told you to buy, we're going to shut down the whole government until you agree to keep us from telling you to spend all that money next time, which will cause our credit rating to drop, which will cost us even more money - and it's all your fault.

How in the blue-eyed-buck-naked-fuck does this make sense to anybody?


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Our Glorious Empire

If this pic doesn't enbiggen very well for you, go to Federacion de Asociaciones Cannibicus for a better look.


Today's Best Blog Line - #2

"Ignorance Arbitrage"

Here's the whole post from No More Mister Nice Blog:


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

EVEN THE TRIVIAL TALKING POINTS FROM THE RIGHT ARE DISHONEST

I saw that Newsmax was pushing this ridiculous story and wasn't sure it was worth a post, but now I see it's a front-page story at Fox Nation, so here's the ridiculousness:
'Butler' Box Office Sales Plummet by One-Third

The movie "Lee Daniels' The Butler" saw its weekend box office receipts plummet by nearly a third, from $24.6 million in its opening week to $17 million last week, after a storm of protests from Republican and veterans groups.

The film depicts a White House butler who served eight presidents, and has come under fire for its portrayal of former President Ronald Reagan and his wife Nancy as being racially insensitive and for casting Jane Fonda as the first lady.

Supporters of President Reagan and veterans groups especially have criticized the film, with some calling for boycotts....
Oh, its box office plummeted? By nearly a third? And it's all because of boycotts by Reagan lovers and Jane Fonda haters? (Or, as the Fox Nation headline implies, because America has suddenly become tired of Oprah Winfrey?)

Nonsense. Every movie that reaches #1 at the weekend box office "plummets" the next week. Boycotts aren't necessary -- moviegoers just move on.

Yes, The Butler's box office dropped 33.0% in its second weekend, according to Box Office Mojo. But the previous #1, Elysium, suffered a54.1% drop in its second week. Before that was 2 Guns: a 58.4% drop.Before that was The Wolverine: a 59.9% drop. Before that was The Conjuring: a 46.9% drop.

Do I need to go on? In fact, The Butler had the smallest second-week drop for a #1 movie since Identity Thief back in March.

This story is up at Fox Nation even though Rupert Murdoch runs a movie studio. It's not as if the moviegoing habits of Americans are unknowable to the Fox media empire.

But this is what I call the right-wing media's "ignorance arbitrage." The conservative purveyors of this nonsense know it's nonsense. But they know they can sell it to people who don't. And that's what they do.

Today's Best Blog Line

Actually it's more like the naming of a concept - something I've been trying to find for a very long time now:
Compulsory patriotism does nothing for soldiers who risk their lives -- but props up those who profit from war
So simple - like the Jitterbug - it plumb evaded me.

From a piece in Salon by an English professor at Virginia Tech:
In addition to donating change to the troops, we are repeatedly impelled to “support our troops” or to “thank our troops.” God constantly blesses them. Politicians exalt them. We are warned, “If you can’t stand behind our troops, feel free to stand in front of them.” One wonders if our troops are the ass-kicking force of P.R. lore or an agglomeration of oversensitive duds and beggars.
Such troop worship is trite and tiresome, but that’s not its primary danger. A nation that continuously publicizes appeals to “support our troops” is explicitly asking its citizens not to think. It is the ideal slogan for suppressing the practice of democracy, presented to us in the guise of democratic preservation.
 --and--
In reality, the troops are not actually recipients of any meaningful support. That honor is reserved for the government and its elite constituencies. “Support our troops” entails a tacit injunction that we also support whatever politicians in any given moment deem the national interest. If we understand that “the national interest” is but a metonym for the aspirations of the ruling class, then supporting the troops becomes a counterintuitive, even harmful, gesture. 

Monday, August 26, 2013

Today's Freedom From Religion

This is Eddie Castillo - a student at Texas Tech:


Eddie is fighting the good fight.  The Texas DMV allowed him to wear his pasta strainer for his driver's license picture.

From Raw Story:
A Texas Tech student said that he was celebrating religious freedom for atheists when he fought to wear a pasta strainer on his head in his official driver’s license photo.
KCDB reported on Saturday that Eddie Castillo spent four months researching and contacting government officials before he got approval to wear the pasta strainer, which he claims is religious garb worn to “worship” the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Castillo is part of a group of “pastafarians,” a name coined by atheists protesting the Kansas School Board’s decision to teach intelligent design in 2005.
“You might think this is some sort of a gag or prank by a college student, but thousands, including myself, see it as a political and religious milestone for all atheists everywhere,” Castillo told KCDB.


Way to go, Eddie.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

College Then And Now

How do I get into a decent school?
1983: Pay enough attention in high school to graduate with a 2.5 GPA, then fill out 3 forms and mail them to a college somewhere that sounds like an OK place, and where a few of your friends plan on going.
2013: Graduate HS early with a 4.8 GPA, be fluent in 3 languages, write the greatest Entrance Essay anybody ever read explaining how easy it was for you to find a cure for cancer in your spare time after church.

How do I pay for college?
1983: Work a construction job in the summer after HS, and then bus tables for a few hours a week during the school year when you need cash for beer and pot.
2013: You know you don't need both of those kidneys, right?

Once I get my degree, what can I do with it?
1983: Find a good job in your chosen field (or in almost anything, really) and begin building a rewarding life for yourself.
2013: Hang onto that diploma - you'll be short on toilet paper soon enough.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Out There Amongst Them

So here I am at the Dunkin' Donuts on US29 north of town - for reasons I don't need to explain - and there's this old guy at the counter feeling a bit chatty, complaining about all the bums and freeloaders he's encountered lately.  He tells of the panhandler he talked with not long ago, who claimed to be making $300 or $400 a day, and how he has a late model Mercedes, and one of his panhandler buddies just bought a nice new RV.  I successfully resisted asking him if he's in the habit of striking up conversations with people he has so little respect for when they accost him on the street and ask him for a handout.  I'm always a bit curious how you can get such a wealth of information from someone you think is a total bum.  Unless of course one of you is a liar.

The kid doing the cooking chimed in with his story of a "homeless guy" he met who told him about getting a boatload of hotel vouchers - at $60 a pop - and how he stays at the Hilton four nights a week, and blah blah blah.

Then, wanting not to be left out apparently, the cashier lady just had to throw in with "if I have to take a drug test to get a job, then they should take a drug test to get their free stuff".

Maybe I've been around too long or something, but these stories and the standard reactions and observations and what somehow passes for insightful comment have all grown pretty fucking boring.

I don't believe most of what spills out of people's gobs most of the time anymore.  I get the weird feeling that an awful lot of these "regular folk" have heard these anecdotes in one form or another for so long, they not only take them as the truth, but have actually absorbed some of them to the point where they think the tale in question has sprung organically from their own experience.  It seems like a variation on Munchausen's Syndrome - Munchausen's By Osmosis maybe?

Thursday, August 22, 2013

So, Here's A Question

What if Antoinette Tuff had been laid off?



If the school district in Decatur had come up a little short this year (because of a thoroughly bizarre problem we have of not being able to figure out that we have to pay for stuff), then there's a real probability that this one turns out just a bit different.

PS) Ms Tuff can "give it all" to her god if that's what she feels the need to do - for myself and (I'm bettin') for the 870 kids in that school, and the thousands of their family members, we're just pretty grateful for Antoinette Tuff.

A Special Message

For all of our friends out there who're still hung up on the conventional wisdom - stuck in the rut of False Equivalence  - still convinced that "both sides do it" - "they're all the same".  These are otherwise good people.  And no matter how fucked up the Repubs get, they're just always going to say, "Yeah, but the Democrats..."

This is for them - because we love them:

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Fuck - Really?

What DumFux News went with on the morning show:




What actually happened:



So it's a little weird - for some months, DumFux News has insisted on running with a kinda-sorta slant that seems to be aimed at bringing the wingnuts back from the abyss, but then they spike their morning show with the standard crap they've been wallowing in for 12 or 15 years.  It's a puzzlement.

Haiku You

Red State haiku from Addicting Info:

Vanilla is great
Other flavors are scary
Finish the damn fence!


Protect the fetus
Abortion is pure evil
SNAP for kids? No way!


Welfare is just wrong
THOSE people are robbing us
OK if you’re white


Filibuster gone?
How will we stop Obama?
Obstruction is hard!


Election results:
GOP loses badly
ACORN stole the vote


We are patriots!
Liberals hate our freedom!
Take away their rights!


All life is precious
Jesus said. Next week we cheer
Lethal injection


The United States
Turning brown is just not fair
Voter suppression


Welfare queens lazy
CEOs work really hard
On better golf score


We are in danger
Obama ignores terror
Bush never did that


Wall Street’s not that bad
Corporations are people
Need more tax cuts please


Regulation’s wrong
Corporations don’t break laws
Here, have some lead paint


Delicious and fresh
Waterways don’t need new rules
Dump some toxic waste


Economy bad
Obama must be to blame
George Bush? Who is that?


Abomination
Gays offend all good Christians
Pass the shrimp cocktail


All the unions
Cut into the bottom line
No pensions for them!


Benghazi “scandal”
We’re outraged at lost lives
Bush kept us all safe


Cheer the CEOs
Ayn Rand’s heroes all, watch them
Plunder the pensions


We love ‘Murika!
Constitution is sacred!
We want to secede!


Brown people voting
Means right wing will always lose
Where is your I.D.?


Have AR-15
Must stop liberal gub’mint
Jesus would approve


Jesus is pure love
Love fellow man but not gays
Put them all to death


Tax cuts for the rich
The poor and the sick perish
Our base is happy
(courtesy of Mark Janes)


Taliban zealots
Kill all of those they dislike
Tea Party jealous


No war on women
Get back in the kitchen, slut
Barefoot and pregnant


Hey, we’re not racists
“You” people can’t get ID?
It’s not OUR problem


Black guy in WHITE House!?!
BENGHAZI-BENGHAZI-BOO!
HELP, baby Jesus!

The Real America


The Colbert Report
Get More: Colbert Report Full Episodes,Video Archive

Are the people in Vicco just some weird anomaly, or is it that the wingnuts have been lying to us about who the folks in some of these small towns really are?

What Does (The) GOP Stand For, Anyway?

Grizzled Old Pettifoggers

Glorified Obstructionist Party

Gloppy Orifice Predilection

Guarantors Of Putrefaction

Greasy Obsequious Pricks

Grunting Obfuscation Pukers

Anybody got some more?

Monday, August 19, 2013

Today's Pix











The Theater

I love it and it makes me nauseous; and I can't think of anything more repulsively silly than most show tunes, but I remember way too many of them; and I still can't figure out why I know so much about all this shit - and all of that goes on inside my head all at the same time.  Sometimes I hate my brain.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Hurts So Good

Have Some Coffee

Zappa

"Without music to decorate it, time is just a bunch of boring production deadlines or dates by which bills must be paid." --Frank Zappa

How it starts:



And before too long:

"Scrutinizer Postlude"

[Central Scrutinizer:]
This is the CENTRAL SCRUTINIZER... again.
Hi!...It's me again, the CENTRAL SCRUTINIZER... Joe says Lucille has messed his mind up,
but, was it the girl or was it the music? 
As you can see...girls, music, disease, heartbreak...they all go together.
Joe found out the hard way, but his troubles were just beginning.
His mind was so messed up... he could hardly do nothin'.
He was in a quandary...being devoured by the swirling cesspool of his own steaming desires. The guy was a wreck. So...what does he do? 
For once, he does something SMART. He goes out and pays a lot of money to L. Ron Hoover... at the First Church of Appliantology.

Eventually it was discovered
That God
Did not want us to be
All the same
This was
BAD NEWS
For the Governments of The World
As it seemed contrary
To the doctrine of
Portion Controlled Servings
Mankind must be made more uniformly
If THE FUTURE
Was going to work
Various ways were sought
To bind us all together
But, alas SAMENESS was unenforceable
It was about this time
That someone
Came up with the idea of TOTAL CRIMINALIZATION
Based on the principle that
If we were ALL crooks
We could at last be uniform
To some degree
In the eyes of THE LAW
Shrewdly our legislators calculated
That most people were
Too lazy to perform a
REAL CRIME
So new laws were manufactured
Making it possible for anyone
To violate them any time of the day or night,
And
Once we had all broken some kind of law
We'd all be in the same big happy club
Right up there with the President,
The most exalted industrialists,
And the clerical big shots
Of all your favorite religions
TOTAL CRIMINALIZATION
Was the greatest idea of its time
And was vastly popular
Except with those people
Who didn't want to be crooks or outlaws,
So, of course, they had to be TRICKED INTO IT...
Which is one of the reasons why
Music
Was eventually made
Illegal

A Blind Hog

Even a blind hog roots up an acorn once in a while.

With that in mind, let's check in with the late great WaPo, where it doesn't matter what's true or what's good or what's right (this is the age of "New Media" y'know - all that matters is delivering readers to advertisers).  But I'll pat 'em on the back on that rarest of occasions when they manage to break through the deafening clutter (that they're helping to create) with something that isn't just their usual Red Team / Blue Team bullshit:
For prosecutors, the key question is whether there was a clearly articulated “quid pro quo.” If so, the gifts were bribes. If not, they were gifts. To me, as an anthropologist, this largely misses the point.
Across the massive cornucopia of human culture, anthropologists have found relatively few universals. One of the strongest of these, however, concerns gift-giving. Gifts are given in all cultures, and to remarkably similar effect. As every graduate student in anthropology learns, gifts by their nature create social ties and a sense of reciprocal obligation. To give a gift is to expect something in return, though it undermines the power and mystique of the gift to spell out too clearly what that something is. It would be uncouth to give a friend a birthday present and say “now when it’s my birthday I expect you to give me this model of this product,” but the expectation of a well-chosen gift in return is no less powerful for that. The failure to give something in response can end a friendship.
 --and--
When politicians accept gifts such as Rolex watches and Oscar de la Renta gowns from multimillionaires, they often lack the means to reciprocate as equals. Surely, Williams has wealthy friends — his equals — with whom he exchanges gifts, but the McDonnells are not wealthy. From an anthropological perspective, Williams gave McDonnell gifts that the governor lacked the means to repay in order to subordinate him. Unable to afford, say, a $10,000 purse for Williams’s wife in return for what was given to his own wife, the governor can only return Williams’s generosity by lending him the power of his office in some way. Whether the expectation of a return was ever crisply articulated as a “quid pro quo” is really beside the point — even if it is the whole point to lawyers.
My guess is that Vaginal Bob will dodge the indictment, and maybe get slapped around a bit by an "ethics committee" stacked with politicians who will give us a great look at Irony In Action by deciding not to be so "hypocritical" as to condemn McDonnell for something most of them have been doing for as long as they've been in politics - all in the name of good government and bipartisanship and fairness.

But, of course in the end, it all fits neatly into the "Both Sides Do It" narrative.

If everybody does it, then there's nobody to hold anybody accountable for anything - and we're right back to status quo.  Never mind.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Egyptian Quickie

I don't know what Obama's supposed to do about Egypt - I don't know that any of it is up to anybody but the Egyptians.

What we all do know is that whatever Obama does, the Repubs are gonna shit on him for it, so he might as well take his best shot no matter how it plays in Punditsville or Kibitzburg or Blogistan.

So it comes down to this:  we have to look after our own, and in the Middle East, "our own" = Israel.  Without Egypt's willing support, the Arab-Israeli Peace Deal goes straight into the shitter and we're right back to 1977; and an Islamic Theocracy in Egypt (even a "democratically elected" one) is bad for that peace deal, which would be bad for Israel, which would be bad for us.

I don't like it; we seem to be stuck in a kind of World-According-To-Kissinger loop where we think the only thing we can do is to maintain the balance of terror.

Gotta be a better way.

Last One

Fuck you, NSA



Thursday, August 15, 2013

Today's Pix









Cousin Magilla Sez

...fuck you, NSA


The Cost Of Doing Nothing

My youngest was recently recruited for a study being done at UVa's Behavioral Sciences Dept - what the hell; somebody's gotta be able to figure this joker out - anyway, while I was there yesterday signing the waivers and various other forms, pretending to be a responsible adult who's able to understand the 5 pages of disclaimers and willing to abdicate any and all rights to any and all recourse if anything goes "wrong", what I remember most about the visit was getting the feeling that we were at some cut-rate "Med School" in the Caribbean or some such.  The offices weren't dirty and dingy, but they weren't spiffy and newly painted either.  And the furniture would have to be upgraded three or four levels to qualify for the discount section at the Goodwill Thrift Store.

And I remember thinking this is another in the string of daily reminders that we're getting dragged down by what I consider our National Allergy To Paying For The Shit That Matters.

And then this pops up at HuffPo, talking about what's happening to most of our once-great research infrastructure:
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- On the first floor of Jordan Hall at the University of Virginia School of Medicine is a 12-by-8 room that, at first glance, looks like a rundown storage space. The floor is a mix of white, teal and purple tiles, in a pattern reminiscent of the 1970s. Trash cans are without tops and half filled. There are rust stains on the tiles, and a loose air vent dangles a bit from the ceiling.
--and--

You wouldn't know from his giddy, optimistic tone that Dutta is currently navigating the biggest obstacle of his career. Five years after he received a $1.3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to undertake this microRNA project, he's nearly out of cash. His proposal was placed in the 2nd percentile of all grants reviewed by NIH in 2007, meaning that it was deemed more promising than 98 percent of the proposed projects.

When he asked for the same amount of money in 2012, his proposal was scored in the 18th percentile. In years past that score may have been good enough, but in the age of sequestration, NIH is supporting a much smaller pool of applicants. Late last month he was told that there would be no funding. UVA has stepped in to help, but Dutta estimates that 40 of his colleagues are in the same boat.
"I am living off of fumes," he says.
A feeling of despair has taken hold within research communities like Dutta's, Top officials at academic and medical institutions have grown convinced that years of stagnant budgets and recent cuts have ushered in the dark ages of science in America.
--and--
For-profit companies can play a role too. But they are much more likely to support projects with a clear return on investment, leaving explorative research like that being done by Dr. William Jackson at the Medical College of Wisconsin in the lurch.
Since 2007, Jackson has studied how viruses create a pool of membranes inside a cell. He hypothesized that viruses went into these "acidic vessels" in order to turn the cell into a factory for other viruses, meaning that if he could stop the development of these membrane pools, he could stop the spread of the virus itself. Most promisingly, he found that chloroquine, which is used to fight malaria, could be used to disrupt this process.
Despite the potential ramifications of such a finding -- everything from the common cold to foot-and-mouth disease is thought to follow this pattern -- the private sector won't fund the work. "There is no money to be made from chloroquine," Jackson said. "Only if the drug companies found something they could copyright or patent would they do it."
Here's a guy named JJ Thompson:


In the 1890s, Thompson was first in proposing the existence of subatomic particles, and the first to show real evidence of what he called a 'corpuscle', which soon would become known as the electron - which was nothing but the birth of The Electronic Age which is exactly how I can post this shit here on my blog (and how you can read this shit here on my blog).

Oh yeah - the guy was on the royal payroll at the time - in fact he spent pretty much his entire career as a gubmint worker - and his research was funded by the British taxpayer.

So go ahead and build your simpleton's ideology around some stoopid precept like "Starve The Beast", but try to remember that the beast you're so busy starving might be the one leaving all these golden eggs all over the joint.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Out Of Chaos

That'd be lovely wouldn't it?  To wake up one day and hear something like, "Well, would you just look at that - we're all out of chaos today".  OK - sorry about that.  Let's get on with the incoherent rant.

The point is that eventually, patterns emerge from a series of chaotic events.

Weather is a chaotic thing, but over some period of time, we can identify a pattern called Climate.

An individual behaves in different ways day-to-day, but we can see a pattern develop, and we call it Personality.

etc

I've been feeling kinda frazzled the last several years, trying to keep up with all the weirdness that's been coming from "Politics", where it seems like somebody is making a concerted effort to change - fundamentally - the way we approach governing ourselves.

There's more than an ample number of specific examples so I'll skip forward here, and say straight up that the main proponents for these changes wear the "Conservative" label, and that most of them are also tagged with "Republican".  But for me, the two big examples that really stand out are these:
  1. "Wall Street" (in the general sense, ie: Banking/Investment/Insurance/etc) came really close to blowing up the whole world.  They bought off politicians, and they bought off the regulators, and they bought off the voters - and when their little scheme imploded, they had the perfect solution - they extorted their way out of it.
  2. The National Security Regime.  Don't be fooled into thinking this is all about Big Brother/Big Gubmint.  The massive structure of Security Nation was put together by people who are  zealots about small-government.  Criticizing them for being hypocrites means nothing because growing the government is not what they're doing.  They're busily taking a public-controlled function and turning it into a private enterprise - not accountable to anybody for anything.
The pattern?  Blame The Gubmint, of course.  Same shit, new day.

Blame the government for bailing out Wall Street instead of holding Wall Street accountable for causing the meltdown that left us with a very limited menu of really shitty choices.

Blame (typical no-good rotten traitorous "gov't employee") Edward Snowden for giving away government secrets instead of addressing the fact that those secrets are all pointing at the hundreds of billions of tax dollars being funneled into the pockets of a very short list of shell corporations trying to control the flow of information.  Let 'em argue about Whistle-Blower protections.  Let 'em argue about privacy.  Let 'em argue about a Journalist's Sources.  They can argue about any-fuckin'-thing they wanna argue about, but don't let 'em start thinking they can find out what's going on in time for them to do anything about it.

So I don't have to look at each crazy thing that falls out of some Repub's tater trap (and I don't have to spend any ergs trying to out-insight some Dem either) - all I have to do is look for how this new piece of bullshit lines up with the rest of the bullshit they've been piling up for the last 35 years.  

Focus on the First Thing - the GOP has turned sour; it's a one-trick pony; it needs a diaper change; they never say anything that isn't aimed at trying to make us believe our democracy doesn't work and that we should get rid of it and turn the whole thing over to a board of directors... How the fuck did these guys get to be known as Patriots and Real Muricans in the first place?  

This is a very old game, and we're supposed to be the exception to it.  We gotta get these fucks outa there.

Kids Say The Darnedest Things

Like - fuck you, NSA.


Today's Pix